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Which are the Polish cities of the future?

Which are the Polish cities of the future?

A ranking of the cities that stand the best chances of adapting to the changing realities by 2050

Saint-Gobain Group and the Polish Society for the Study of the Future have just released the first ranking of the Polish Cities of the Future 2050. After analysing the perspectives for the development of the Polish cities within the next three decades, researchers from 4CF have found out what are the most likely scenarios and which cities are fit to adapt to the changes. Their finding is hardly surprising - the Polish capital of Warsaw is best placed to become “a city of the future” first.

Warsaw will likely become a future-proof city first

Among the largest Polish agglomerations, Warsaw has a chance to gain the status of the city of the future the fastest. Wrocław and Katowice take second and third place respectively, followed by Kraków. These are the results of the first ranking of the Polish Cities of the Future 2050.

The authors of the study focused on four areas in the functioning of the city to determine the results: work (office buildings), living (residential buildings), urban infrastructure related to leisure ("after hours") and transport.

According to the authors, Warsaw is already playing in the European league. The city wins in individual sub-rankings for quality of office buildings, quality of urban infrastructure for free time, as well as transport and scores high in living. This result is due to the city’s recent investment in sustainable development, culture, education, sport and recreation and the provisions of the #Warsaw 2030 Strategy, the announcement further suggests.

The top 6 ranking is as follows:

  1. Warsaw
  2. Wroclaw
  3. Katowice
  4. Poznan and Gdansk
  5. Lodz
  6. Krakow

Three scenarios for urban development until 2050

The ranking is based on preliminary research into the possible paths for long-term development of the Polish cities. Said research determined three main scenarios for urban development until 2050. All three are less optimistic than what researchers expected, and they stem from climate change and the inevitable evolution of lifestyles.

The first of the predicted scenarios - named in the report "Freedom in quarantine" assumes that thanks to widespread automation only 20% of us will have a job - a specialized elite with well-paid employment. Remote work will become a norm, not a privilege, and the same goes for studying.

The authors also project that the risks of future pandemics will mean that we will almost no longer participate in meetings physically and thus – cities will become less attractive and urbanization levels will go down. Thus, the main source of money in the municipal treasury will be subsidies from the state budget, the amount of which will depend on the number of people. Therefore, cities will intensively compete with each other for residents.

In the second scenarios - "Under the glass" - people will work long hours in green and clean cities, without much room for self-realization during free time. This is the cost of expensive city modernization - arguably the result of the need to meet the climate goals of the EU.

It will make cities modern centres of social life with no other alternatives, and over 80 percent of Poles will live in them. Apart from large agglomerations, where energy and utilities will be optimized through the use of artificial intelligence and a high population density, the costs of electricity, gas, water and waste disposal will be high.

This will make life in the countryside - at the mercy of the elements unleashed by climate change and without a chance for a well-paid job - lose its attractiveness. For the most part, we will get rid of cars, and will use public transport and shared mobility.

Finally, a third scenario “This is our climate," concrete-dominated polluted, large and overheated cities, will still offer us the best job possibilities, but the social dimensions of living in the city - the urban lifestyle and leisure culture will be under constant crisis.

Even those of us who remain in cities will spend 90% of our free time outside their borders. The local community in large cities will fall apart and for those living in cities, there will be, among others, water rationing and high prices of overconsumption.

The complete study of the Polish Cities of the Future 2050 report, together with a description of the methodology and scenarios for the future, is available at: www.miastaprzyszlosci2050.pl

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